Mayo 3-11 Cork 0-18
Cora Staunton-inspired Mayo have ended Cork’s long reign as TG4 All-Ireland ladies senior football champions.
The Westerners washed away a year of hurt to score a two-point victory over the seven-in-a-row chasing Rebels at Cavan's Kingspan Breffni in Saturday’s enthralling semi-final.
Staunton collected 1-09 as Mayo made up for last year’s heartbreaking one-point semi-final defeat to Dublin at the same venue – to reach a first Brendan Martin Cup decider in ten years.
For Cork, it’s their first defeat in the All-Ireland series since the 2010 quarter-final loss to Tyrone – but their third of the season following losses to Kerry and Waterford in the Munster championship.
For Mayo, it’s been a remarkable turnaround since their Connacht final loss to Galway on July 2 – and they’ll now meet Dublin on September 24 in the decider.
Mayo survived the loss of Fiona Doherty to the sin-bin for a ten-minute spell in the second half to edge home.
Orla Finn scored 13 points for Cork but the they couldn’t find a crucial goal to ask real questions of Mayo.
They had a glorious chance when referee Niall McCormack adjudged that Finn was fouled by Yvonne Byrne with four minutes left.But the Mayo goalkeeper saved the resultant penalty from Eimear Scally, who picked up an injury in the warm-up, when a goal would have put Cork a point clear.
Finn’s eleventh free of the afternoon cut the deficit back to just a point, but in the last minute Staunton put over what would prove to the insurance score.
Cork boss Ephie Fitzgerald also decided to take off 2016 Player of the Year Bríd Stack, who’d carried a hamstring injury into the game, with eight minutes left.
And the 11-time All-Ireland senior medallist was visibly distraught at full-time as she raced down the tunnel.
Cork died with their boots on but this was Mayo’s day and they’ll have the chance to claim just a fifth All-Ireland senior crown in three weeks’ time.
The first half was level five times, with goalkeepers Byrne and Martina O’Brien excelling with some brilliant saves.
It was a first half shoot-out between Finn and Staunton – as the Cork forward collected seven points, six frees, with Staunton registering 1-06, two from the dead ball.
And after Staunton’s goal, Byrne produced another vital save from Áine O’Sullivan, to help Mayo lead by 1-07 to 0-08 at the break.
Cork, assisted by the wind, turned up the heat after half-time to move two points clear – 0-14 to 1-09.
But two quick-fire goals swung the pendulum back in Mayo’s favour – Aileen Gilroy taking a pass from Doherty to slam a shot past O’Brien in the 42ndminute, before sub Amy Dowling netted with her first touch midway through the second half.
That score put Mayo four points clear – 3-09 to 0-14 – but Cork kept on battling and could have had an elusive goal with 11 minutes left.
Áine O’Sullivan looked certain to find the net but she skied an effort off the upright and the ball rebounded to safety.
Scorers for Mayo: C Staunton 1-09 (2f), A Gilroy & A Dowling 1-00 each, N Kelly & C Whyte 0-01 each.
Scorers for Cork: O Finn 0-13 (11f), Á O’Sullivan 0-02, R Phelan C O’Sullivan & B O’Sullivan 0-01 each.
Mayo: Y Byrne; O Conlon, S Tierney, M Carter; M Corbett, R Kearns, F Doherty; A Gilroy, F McHale; D Hughes, N Kelly, C Whyte; S Rowe, C Staunton, G Kelly.
Sub: A Dowling for Kearns (44).
Cork: M O’Brien; E Spillane, B Stack, R Phelan; A Hutchings, E Meaney, S Kelly; N Cotter, M Duggan; C O’Sullivan, D O’Sullivan, B O’Sullivan; Á O’Sullivan, E Scally, O Finn.
Subs: L Coppinger for Scally (25), M Ambrose for Meaney (37), O Farmer for Cotter (46), Scally for Á O’Sullivan (51), L Coholan for Stack (52).
Referee: N McCormack (Laois).